Slim Dusty’s ‘Lights on the hill’

 An academic style analysis of a country song:

As his truck slides off the road, a truck driver sings about his imminent death, about his windscreen wipers: ‘the song they sing is a part of my mind’ (McKean 1972). He is about to leave the ordinary world of the Aussie, interstate truckie— a culture of hard living workers whose creed makes them exclusive—and imagesbecome part of a mythical one where others will ‘tell about the night I died’ (ibid 1972).

In ‘Lights on the Hill’, Slim Dusty, himself now a mythical figure, sings about an ordinary man. Like the stories of American writer, Raymond Carver, Joy McKean’s songs are about ordinary people: ‘stories that culture tells itself about itself’ (Bellou 2015a). Continue reading

The man who wore a suit

The old student sighed. What should he wear? ‘Please treat the interview as you would any other formal, professional imagesinterview’ it said on the invitation. A suit and tie? He would ask his brother.

‘Academics don’t wear suits. You’d embarrass them if you wore one,’ his brother said. ‘Neat, casual would be best.’

The first male applicant he saw when he walked into the waiting room was a young man, whom he would later come to know as Nikos, dressed in a suit, white shirt, tie and polished, black shoes. The old student sat beside him and flicked a non-existent piece of lint off his jeans. Nikos grinned.

A few minutes later, the old student had to take a grip on his lower jaw, as another applicant came in and sat beside the suit. This young man, whose name he would not remember, seemed oblivious to their contrasting outfits. He wore runners, socks that ended below his ankles, shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. A pair of sunglasses, with bright-green frames, was perched on top of his head.

The old student smiled. What had he been worried about? He was always stressed about something. There he was, though, sitting talking to eleven strangers and it all seemed natural. Later they would all be wishing each other well. Not like that party he’d been to a few months ago. Most of the guests had known each other—they were all old friends of the host—whereas he had only known the host. All he could think of that night was how to escape. One guest had wandered past and said, ‘Don’t worry, someone will come and talk to you soon’, as he moved away and joined his friends.

The interviewees parted on good terms with each other; maybe one or two would be reunited as student writing mentors, but the only name the old student remembered was Nikos’s—the man who wore a suit.

Ron Burrows,

Author: The Postie and the Priest: A look at Father Bob Maguire through his letterbox

They call me by a number not a name

Marea, Aleppo Province. July 23, 2012. Fatma Al-Krama is surrounded by family members as she sits next to the body of her dead son, 25-year-old Habib Al-Krama, tortured and killed by pro-Assad militias in the city of Aleppo. Habib's body was found dumped on a city street and brought back to his village for burial. (Photo by Moises Saman/Magnum)In Johnny Cash’s song, “Doin’ My Time”, a prisoner sings, “They call me by a number not a name”. He sings about an “achin’ heart on that gal of mine”. Unlike the refugees imprisoned on Manus Island, Nauru or any of the other Australian gulags, Cash’s prisoner is in gaol because he broke the law. And he’s got hope: knows when he will get out. Tony Abbotts and Peter Dutton’s political prisoners: children, women and men, await the “governor’s” pleasure, and the “governor” calls them “by a number not a name”. This is the way the Nazis dehumanised the Jews. Continue reading

God’s Spin

John Weldon is the author of Spincycle, a bloke’s perspective of a marriage breakdown, and a book that we all should read, according to tutor, Lucia Nardo. Professional Writing and Editing students met him earlier in the year when he was a guest speaker during a ‘Industry Skills’ class. images-1

  • Head of the editorial board of Offset, the Victoria University journal.
  • Bachelor of Communications

Lucia asks Weldon what he does at Offset.

“I am God,” He says.

Thank Christ for that, I’ve been waiting to meet Him. He says that once we’ve finished doing our PWE course we are eligible to apply for a position as one of the team who produces Offset if we are going on to do a degree.

Weldon’s position is Management Editor. He gets to work on the whiteboard and draws a diagram of the board’s structure with God sitting on top and His underlings ranged across the board below Him. God says that the launch each year is challenging and exciting for all concerned. Continue reading

Take One: a scene from the controversial screenplay

images-1Dave is driving Jack’s car. Jack has been trying hard to stay off the grog but he’s given-in to the little man in his head.

Camera shot through the back window of the car: a wheelchair sitting in the middle of the Nursing Home carpark recedes as the car pulls onto the road.

Interior of the car: Jack and Dave in the front and an old man sitting next to an Esky on the back seat. Continue reading

Ex-Postie Plagiarises Priest or (What Waking Up is Like – part two)

After writing, ‘What Waking Up is Like,’ ( things began to tremble on my mind. The little bloke on the left side of my brain began to niggle at me: ‘You pinched those words from the priest.’ He kept chanting ‘plagiarist’ as I tried to sleep. Ronny, on the right side of my brain, said, ‘Don’t worry about it because Father Bob will never know’, but my sleep became fragmented.

When I wrote the piece I tried not to plagiarise the priest. I deleted ‘trembling’ and replaced it with ‘preying’, but ‘whatever it is that’s trembling on their minds’ sounds stronger than ‘whatever it is that’s preying on their minds’. Don’t you think? You can see that, can’t you?

I remember when Bob said it. I was writing The Postie and the Priest and was at a St Patrick’s Day Mass. ‘Pray for the one-legged man from Port Melbourne,’ said Father. And pray for whatever else is trembling on your mind.’ I knew then I’d use it one day. For six years, I resisted temptation, but I faltered. Now I will have to go to the good Father and seek absolution for my sin.

Hashbrowns v New Potatoes

Can you picture a waitress with  ‘scrambled yellow hair and marmalade thighs’? Now associate her with images-1hashbrowns. Listen to Tom Waits’s song,‘The Ghosts of Saturday Night’, and from now on you’ll be ‘dreaming of a waitress with Maxwell House eyes’ as you wonder what to have for breakfast. Watch her ‘as she wipes the wisps of dishwater blonde from her eyes’ and you’ll be singing, ‘hashbrowns, hashbrowns, you know I can’t be late’. Continue reading